Sexual Violence and HIV/AIDS

Sexual violence can take many forms. It violates the most basic of human rights, and its effects resonate long after the act. It also perpetuates the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection.

In the developing world 2 out of 3 young people living with HIV are female.

In some countries in Africa young women are five times more likely to be infected than young men.

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What has Changed for Girls since 1995?

In September of 1995 the United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. The official name of the Conference was “The Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace”. 189 governments participated in the conference and more than 5,000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations.

The outcome document of this conference known as The Platform for Action set out a number of actions that were to lead to fundamental changes in the lives of women and girls. Section L of the document focuses on the girl child and contains nine strategic objectives with corresponding actions that were to be taken by governments and civil society.

The objectives are:

  1. Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl-child.
  2. Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
  3. Promote and protect the rights of the girl-child and increase awareness of her needs and potential.
  4. Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skills development and training.
  5. Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition.
  6. Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work.
  7. Eradicate violence against the girl-child.
  8. Promote the girl-child’s awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.
  9. Strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of the girl-child.

In 2010 the United Nations will review progress on Beijing. An important part of this Beijing +15 review will be to ask how and in what ways girls are better off or worse off than they were in 1995.

As an NGO representative at the UN working on girls’ issues I am interested in what you think, especially if you are a girl.

Can you cite one success and one failure regarding any or all of these objectives? Thanks in advance for sharing your ideas.

Read more at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/girl.htm

Pakistani Women Protest Violence Against Women

Photo:Arif Ali/AFP

Pakistani women, reacting to the public flogging of a seventeen year old girl in the Swat valley protested in Lahore, on April 4.

On April 6, Pakistan’s top judge ordered a court hearing into the public flogging of the girl, filmed on an a cell phone. See: FRONTLINE: Where women are flogged… | PBS

The recently restored chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, summoned senior government officials before a special eight-judge bench in response to public outrage over the video, which shows a bearded militant whipping the screaming girl 34 times.

Chaand Bibi the girl at the center of the controversy did not appear in court, although ordered to do so and has denied being the burqa clad figure in the video. The Taliban control the area where she lives and claim that it is their right to thrash women, so her denial is understandable.

Meanwhile, the man who filmed the Taliban flogging has said that the treatment meted out to the girl was actually a “punishment” for her refusing a marriage proposal from a militant. This is consistant with reports coming out of Swat that the Taliban have ordered families to declare in the mosques if they have unmarried daughters so that they can be married off to militants. Families who do not comply have been threatened with “dire consequences.”

Today is International Free the Slaves Awareness Day

In November, in a post entitled, Saving Girls in New York from the Life, I wrote about domestically trafficked and commercially exploited girls in New York City. Since then, the United States Justice Department has released some shocking new statistics revealing the extent of human trafficking in this country. These statistics show that the typical slave in the United States today is an American girl, a female American citizen under the age of 17.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), and its reauthorizations in 2003, 2005, and 2008 define a human trafficking victim as a person induced to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud, or coercion. Any person under age 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion was present.

  • 83% of the reported human trafficking incidents involved allegations of sex trafficking.
  • Labor trafficking accounted for 12% of incidents, and other or unknown forms of human trafficking made up the remaining 5%.
  • About a third 32% of the 1,229 alleged human trafficking incidents involved sex trafficking of children.
  • Over 90% of victims in both alleged and confirmed human trafficking incidents were female.
  • Hispanic victims comprised the largest share 37% of alleged sex trafficking victims and more than half 56% of alleged labor trafficking victims.
  • Asians made up 10% of alleged sex trafficking victims, compared to 31% of labor trafficking victims.
  • Approximately two-thirds of victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were age 17 or younger.
  • Sex trafficking victims tended to be younger (71% were under age 25) and labor trafficking victims tended to be older (almost 70% were age 25 or older).
  • Slightly more than half of all victims in alleged human trafficking incidents were U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens accounted for 63% of sex trafficking victims, compared to 4%  of labor trafficking victims.

View the whole report from the Justice Department at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/cshti08.htm

To find out what you can do to combat modern day slavery in the United States visit: http://www.stophumantraffickingny.org/faq/